Unit 6: Week 2: Career Exploration

Unit 6: Week 2: Career Exploration

Essential Questions

  • What career options does this class and the Help Desk experience open up to me?
  • What are the next steps I should take to pursue the career that interests me?

Big Ideas

This course has been preparing students to operate as Help Desk representatives. This is an often-cited first step for people seeking careers in Information Technology (IT). IT Help Desks can be found in many different industries, not just technology. Schools and universities, libraries and museums, medical and emergency facilities, transportation and shopping centers, and many other businesses have IT and need IT support. Sometimes, they get that support from within their organization, and others outsource it.

This course is a first step towards what could become a lifelong career in IT. Students may not realize the variety of IT positions and how they can lead to interesting and rewarding careers. It’s important to explore some of the options in order to take the best actions moving forward, whether those actions include high school courses, certifications, higher education, or on-the-job training. In this unit, students should explore potential IT careers and determine action steps they might take in the near future to become better prepared for the careers of their choice.

Connection to Student Lives

What do you want to be when you grow up? This is a question many people get asked from the time they are very little. Often, some young people don’t know what career they want to pursue. You may not even know what careers are possible, especially when it comes to the rapidly evolving field of Information Technology (IT).

Taking this course doesn’t lock you into a career in IT, but it does provide you with some important background in case you might want a career in IT. Again, you may not know what kinds of careers are possible in IT, but the field is evolving and changing quickly as new technologies are developed and become deployed in our schools, homes, and places of work. For many IT professionals, being a Help Desk representative was an important first step that then launched them into their current career–one that may actually be very different from working on a Help Desk. Yet, many IT professionals report that the Help Desk experience was valuable for getting them started, helping them learn to work with others, and to use it as a springboard to their current position.

You don’t have to know what you want to be when you grow up. It might change several times. But if you want to explore a career in IT, this course should have given you some valuable information and skills to do so.

Framing Problem

Students explore possible IT careers to determine what next steps they might take to pursue a career of interest.

Cornerstone Assessment

Students create a digital product about at least one potential IT career or a group of related careers. Information should go beyond basic facts (e.g., salary ranges, job positions, etc.) and should also include student reflections on the information they’ve found and how the career possibilities do or do not match their personal goals.

DPI Standards

  • 1.08 Understand information technology career pathways (Supplemental)

HDI Standards

  • 1.3.1 Describe the role of a customer service representative in the organization
  • 1.3.2 Identify the top skills most commonly required of a support professional
  • 1.3.3 Describe the primary responsibilities of a customer service representative in a service and support organization


  • The three main roles of a customer service representative: Expert, Customer Champion, Expeditor
  • The top skills most commonly required of a support professional
  • Common responsibilities of a customer service representative
  • Potential IT career pathways


  • Describe the role of a customer service representative in the organization.
  • Identify the top skills most commonly required of a support professional.
  • Describe the primary responsibilities of a customer service representative in a service and support organization.
  • Understand potential information technology career pathways.

Supporting Vocabulary

  • Adaptability
  • Customer Champion (advocate)
  • Expeditor (escalate)
  • Expert
  • Interpersonal vs. Intrapersonal skills

Weekly Map


Introduction to problem: Careers in IT

Individual or team meetings to develop project plan and goals


Review content resources with whole group

Small group and independent exploration of resources

Contribute to individual or team project


Exam Review

Individual or team progress check with supervisor (using project plan)


Exam Review

Small group and independent exploration of resources

Contribute to individual or team project


Exam or Exam Review


Lesson Ideas

Students can work independently, in pairs, or small groups to learn about IT career options. They should develop a digital product that summarizes their findings that can be shared with others.

Students can develop a timeline of their eventual entry and early matriculation through an IT career. The timeline can include events such as CTE and other courses taken during high school, certifications they hope to obtain, part-time or short-term IT positions, and any future training or education they feel necessary to pursue to be prepared to enter an IT career.

Potential Resources

HDI-CSR Competencies

A customer service representative assumes three main roles:

  1. An Expert—a person with a high degree of school system and/or technical knowledge, skills, or experience. An expert is able to respond to the school system issue with the appropriate sense of urgency.
  2. A Customer Champion—a person who advocates for the customer and their needs. A customer champion represents the customer and focuses on achieving school system goals and objectives.
  3. An Expeditor—a person who executes quickly and effectively. If unable to resolve an issue, an expeditor will escalate the issue to the appropriate resource who can resolve the issue, and continue to follow up in a timely manner to ensure the issue has been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

The top skills most commonly required of a support professional include:

  • Customer service
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to learn quickly
  • Troubleshooting/problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Adaptability
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Self-motivated, independent worker
  • Support experience

The responsibilities of a customer service representative include:

  • Providing high quality customer care on every interaction
  • Receiving and resolving the initial customer request or incident
  • Adhering to policy and standard operating procedures
  • Maintaining product knowledge on new and existing products and services
  • Educating the customer and enhancing the customer experience
  • Reusing, improving, and creating knowledge
  • Providing accurate information and solutions to customers
  • Staying informed about the changing needs of the school system

The Official CompTIA ITF+ Instructor’s Manual and Student Guide: Career Advice (pp. 497-506)

CompTIA has put together an IT career path planning tool that is updated periodically. It provides salary ranges, annual job postings, job growth, suggested certifications, and other information across beginner, intermediate, and advanced experience levels. Be sure to click on the Learn More button for any positions you are interested in.

CompTIA also provides this overview of IT Career Growth: The Hottest Areas of Technology for Career Changers with links to additional information on various IT career positions. The information is appropriate for students, not just career changers.

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Computer and Information Technology Occupations was more than $88,000 which is twice the median annual wage for all occupations. Not all of these degrees require a college degree, such as Computer Support Specialists whose median annual salary was more than $54,000.

ITCareerFinder provides information about a variety of in-demand IT careers with a focus on helping people plan their career path in IT.

There are many articles being published with constantly updated information on IT jobs and careers, like this list of 17 Computer Careers for Self-Proclaimed “Tech Geeks” by Callie Malvik for Rasmussen College and’s list of 21 Different Types of IT Jobs to Explore.


Pearson Tech Skills

Khan Academy

  • Careers in Tech is a playlist of short videos about different IT careers, primarily software engineers

Technology Gee:

I.T. Career Questions

  • Where do you start in IT? Discover your roadmap to Information Technology (10:41) Provides an overview of different IT career paths, tying certifications to the CompTIA certifications, as well as practical advice for being successful in IT including the value of Help Desk support as an entry into an IT career. Recommendations include being able to work independently, enjoying helping others, and being willing to keep up with new technologies.

How to get started with I.T. – Information Technology (10:56) Is IT right for you? Zack from I.T. says it is if you like to learn new things and you enjoy overcoming challenges. He notes there is a large community to help you learn more about IT and to overcome obstacles that you may run into.